I reach for beauty when something is painful in my life. Lately, I have been reaching often. Our children seem to sense this. For Mother's Day, our 18yo son presented me with India ink and a calligraphy pen. Oh, my my, that kid knows what I love: pen, ink, and paper.
Maybe this seems odd to the modern first world, but in the missionary culture and church culture, we are encouraged to be silent. Forgiveness requires silence. And letting go.
But I read the Old Testament and believe the God of the King David is the God of me, so I don't believe silence is a prerequisite for forgiveness.
"Sometimes, sharing the burden of an upsetting truth, and revealing it, is a gift you give forsomeone else. You share the burden, so others will help, in a situation where telling them will change everything."
I'm tired I'm worn My heart is heavy From the work it takes to keep on breathing
Today, I hit empty. It's emotionally, mentally, and spiritually exhausting going all stern mama on a big mission corporation that just doesn't get it.
A friend randomly texts, "How are you?" I take a half hour to reply.
"I just want my happy little quiet peaceful life back."
Silence. I have no other words.
I've let my hope fail My soul feels crushed by the weight of this world
Don't cry, don't cry, don't cry. I'm so tired of crying.
Tears. Dang it.
I've lost my will to fight I'm worn So heaven come and flood my eyes
Then...nothing. This is worse than the tears. I am just...empty.
I know I need to lift my eyes up But I'm to weak Life just won't let up
I get a message..a little dorm sis CCs me on a fiesty email she wrote the mission committee...it makes me smile. She even said, "bit in the ass." I picture the mission's prim and proper conservative bigshots having to read that. Heh.
I think, Yes, this. I need this. I need less whispering safely behind bushes, "go, lori, go," and more who come with swords and arrows.
I feel a spark of renewed courage.
Let me know the struggle ends That you can mend a heart that's frail and torn I want to know a song can rise from ashes of a broken life
Then the day unfolds and the puppy entertains with an empty toilet paper roll, three of our 4 paint on canvas at the kitchen table, one asks if I will play a card game with him, and the hubs comes home for burgers, fries, and 3 episodes of our currently favorite show.
Life is normal, happy, quiet, and peaceful. Here, there is a family, not a corporation. Here, there is safety, not abuse. Here, there is understanding. Here there is courage.
"Trouble surrounds me. Chaos abounding. But my soul will rest in you. I will not fear the war. I will not fear the storm. My help is on the way. I will not fear. His promise is true. My God will come through. Always."
Today has been a bit of a downer in that I somehow (almost) effectively toppled a very bad man from his self-made throne of deception and abuse, yet …. the fireworks and cheers were replaced with sighs and questions.
I don't want a parade.
But I also don't want a guilt trip.
Everywhere I went, on social media or in email, people sent messages about the man's family. “Oh, I am so sad for his wife” “I'm worried about his kids.” “I hear his daughter has received 'hate' mail.” “I wonder if the stress will flare up her illness.” "She is taking this so hard." All.day.long.
It's hard for a people-pleaser to be a person-toppler. I didn't want to topple that man. I mean, I would have preferred him be a super awesome dorm dad who takes care of the kids entrusted to him. I would have hoped to go on with my peaceful life creatively homeschooling our four kids on a Gulf Coast riverbank. I would have liked to focus on college scholarships or on my kind-of-neglected-lately other blog.
Besides, I don't hate him. I don't know why I don't, actually. I've wondered if I'm broken in some psycho-therapy way, or if I'm stifling rage, or...maybe it's just not easy for me to dislike someone.
Of course, I don't want him near children ever again ever, and he had better not come near mine or mama will go redneck crazy, but I don't really want him to be tortured or anything, and I really do care about his beautiful family; in fact, they're entirely the reason I stayed silent for over two decades. I am sorry they're hurting and I'm sorry I've been unfriended on Facebook and I'm sorry someone might have health problems from the stress, but ...
I can't let your words get into my head. I have to help the starfish. They're on the beach by the dozens...hundreds. Sure, they're broken, and well, yeah, there isn't a lot of hope. They're a mess! One is drunk all the time; one writes God like ...god (he used to be a missionary). One works to forget. One seeks a new religion. One cusses at the kids. One keeps getting divorced. One can't make friends. One is so bitter he can't see anything good. One has nightmares...nightly. We all have broken pieces.
We'll never be whole again.
I know, you don't have to tell me, I can't save them all. I don't even know if I can save my own starfish. But what does it hurt me to try? It takes only a little bit of energy to pick up each starfish, tossing it into the sea. Sure, most will probably wash ashore again - they're not ready to swim yet - but isn't it worth a try, even if only one starfish can be saved?
I can't make much difference.
But I can make a difference.
And to that one, I made all the difference.
You go ahead and worry about the seagulls, if you want to. I think they're going to be just fine. I'll be taking care of the starfish.
Photos by Lori Seaborg, April 2, 2014, Orange Beach, Alabama
I'm going to tell you what almost killed the blog soon. But you're going to have to wait a bit longer. Bleh, I know! I'm taking care of something within the "family," you see. My family isn't normal - it is made up of thousands of missionaries. They're all I've known, and they're all I've had for every day of my childhood. I didn't get to live near real-life relatives.
And I've always been sad about that. I thought I was missing out.
But you know what I've realized over the past several days? That even though my dysfunctional (::cough::understatement), missionary family is scattered across the globe; even though we may not have seen each other for one or two or three decades; even though we don't have the same grandparents or even the same accents, we really are family. My odd-ball family really will be there for me when the going gets tough. They're proving it this week.
I keep getting teary about it. They're filling the cracks in my soul with love.
I've been hugged by a hundred of my family members in the past few days, and not a one of them in person. The hugs came through emails, messages, texts, and posts from North Korea, Florida, England, North Carolina, Michigan, Guam, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Thailand, Africa, and Papua New Guinea. To list only a few!
I realized that my family is bigger than I thought.
I've been in touch with MKs and missionaries from missions not my own, from generations not my own, from religions not my own, and from countries not my own.
I didn't realize our bond was so tight.
I mean, I knew I cared about them, but I didn't know they cared about me. A New Zealand MK whom I don't even know sent me a message tonight to ask if I'm okay, adding, "Don't worry we'll keep an eye on you."
I can't even tell you how much those words - the many supportive words I have received - have meant to me. I did .not. want to be a "whistleblower," a giant-killer, a hero - the titles people keep giving me.
But if little girls can be safer now, if mommies can sleep more soundly at night, if daddies are more aware, and if my dear friends can find closure...if I can realize I'm not unwanted...then my pain was worth it. Absolutely worth it.
Have you ever kept silent on something until it no longer affected anyone else? You were still affected and nobody knew, because you were, well, silent.
So you thought you had to keep this up All the work that you do So we think that you're good And you can't believe it's not enough All the walls you built up Are just glass on the outside
You can keep silent forever. You can take the secrets to your grave.
But the walls are just glass on the outside...
So let 'em fall down
There's freedom waiting in the sound
When you let your walls fall to the ground
We're here now
I've kept my secrets for decades. I haven't wanted to hurt anyone by speaking the truth. But the fact is, silence is hurting me. It is hurting my family. It is hurting any hope of a ministry I could have. It is hurting my creativity. It is hurting God.
I've tried to stifle it, to not let it affect me. But then I'll lash out at one of the kids in anger. I'll gain weight. I'll stop taking photos. I won't blog. I will try not to make friends.
This is where the healing begins, This is where the healing starts When you come to where you're broken within The light meets the dark
My greatest fear is that everyone will abandon me. Abandonment is at the core of all that I worry about in this world. I am always sure, all the time, that everyone wants to leave me. And I'm always sure, every moment, that they will leave me.
Afraid to let your secrets out Everything that you hide Can come crashing through the door now But too scared to face all your fear So you hide but you find That the shame won't disappear
I haven't found my voice yet, but I will soon, I hope. I need to know if cracks can fill with grace and love. I need to know if it's true that light meets the dark.
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